Keeping training momentum in the summer is easy, you jump from work to your bike and eat up the miles and sprint up the hills with the birds singing and the sun shining until late. In these conditions its easy to have decent training sessions and concentrate on your riding and not the elements. The winter is a whole different kettle of fish! To start with its dark by 4pm, the roads are wet and full of drivers eager to get home not looking where their going, and the single track has turned into a sticky mess (great in the light, not so great in the dark). This although sometimes good fun is not ideal training time and often makes me frustrated not feeling I can get the most out of training rides.
This is the time of year when my turn my attention to the gym and especially get into Spinning.
Spinning, when you cant get out on your bike is a fantastic way to get a high intensity workout of the muscle groups key for cycling. Spin classes have the added bonus of an instructor and loud music to keep you pumped up and pushing up that last hill climb which is great for days when your motivation is lack luster!
The high intensity of spin classes means I usually spend most of my time anaerobic (that nice place where you feel like your lungs might burst and your heart is beating out of your chest) with my heart rate above 160bpm.
High Intensity Interval Training is (according to a 2011 study presented at the American College of Sports Medicine Annual Meeting) a great way to improve your aerobic capacity, just 2 weeks of HIIT can improve your aerobic capacity as much as 6-8 weeks of endurance training. I certainly feel like Spinning has improved my fitness and feel exhausted after a class. After a spin class I refuel with a protein shake and a carbohydrate lunch like a brown bagel and cream cheese (a little bit of fat is good for you!).
Spinning is often a sticky hot affair so its worth taking a towel and large water bottle too!
I use the spin class once or twice a week to help reduce my lactate production and enhance neuromuscular control as there are often sprints in a spin class I try and tailor this into my training plan as a fun variation to the gym.